Are WordPress developers ‘real’ developers?

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What do you think about it?!

It seems like every other week, there is someone proclaiming rather loudly that “being a WordPress developer does not mean you are a real developer.”

This could not be further from the truth.  WordPress developers not only make websites more user-friendly and accessible, but they also develop!  I want to look at the common reasons some give for not considering WordPress developers – and the work they do – real.

“WordPress does not require actual coding, so you can’t call yourself a coder/developer/programmer.”

WordPress is unique in that you don’t have to learn how to use code to build a website.  Many features allow you to drag and drop your content but also to simply buy a theme and insert your information.  Pretty easy, right?

That’s the whole point.  If you look at WordPress’s mission statement, the first sentence states, “WordPress is software designed for everyone, emphasizing accessibility, performance, security, and ease of use.”  The goal is to have as many people working and creating as possible.  Easy also doesn’t mean zero coding.

Many developers use WordPress to build out custom sites and have turned this into their own business.  We even offer a course, called Instant Understrap, which teaches developers how to use the Understrap theme to create websites.  General working knowledge of WordPress is required, as well as being able to use at minimum PHP, Bootstrap, and the terminal.  

“If you’re not using a JavaScript framework, it’s not really developing.”

For some reason, there’s this mindset that if you aren’t using only JavaScript and its many children, you aren’t doing any development. 

I like to think of this take as similar to the French and English Academy.  The French Academy is a council that makes decisions about the French language.  They decide what words go into the French dictionary and they like to think of themselves as preserving the French language.  In a sense, they gatekeep French.  Some developers believe that it is their job to be the Developing Academy.  They can decide what languages make you a developer and which ones don’t. 

 The thing about a Developing Academy is, much like the English Academy, it doesn’t exist.   

Just like WordPress, English is open to everyone and actually thrives on variety and diversity.  It’s used around the world in many different flavors, specifically because it does not have a gatekeeping “Academy.”

There is no governing body that decides what languages make you a developer.  It doesn’t matter if the language is old or new, if you are using it to develop you are a developer.  JavaScript and its libraries are indeed used in WordPress.

Many have expressed their disdain for PHP, which is the main language used in coding WordPress.  There are always valid criticisms when it comes to issues with different languages.  But dismissing a PHP user just because it’s not a newer language doesn’t really make much sense.  It is still used by major websites such as Facebook/Meta, Wikipedia, and Tumblr.  

“You won’t be able to find a job as a WordPress Developer.”

This is just flat-out not true.  There are thousands of WordPress developer jobs in the world and they are growing daily.  The ongoing COVID-19 epidemic can also be cited as a reason for the increase in website demand.  According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2020 there was a record number of new business applicants.  Ecommerce also rose to bring in a demand for more websites.  As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people use WordPress development to start their businesses.   These models include but are not limited to website creation, website troubleshooting, and the creation of WordPress plugins.  WordPress has so many avenues for work, creation, and development. 

“So, are WordPress developers real developers?”

Of course, they are. 

As you can see, no one thing makes someone a developer.  You can use whatever language, content management system, or theme builder you want.  All that matters is that you are developing.  

And if it keeps you up at night that some people don’t think WordPress developers are for real, go to a store nearby.  Use the money that you made from being a WordPress developer to pay for an item.  And then sit back and take joy in the fact that your money still spends the same.


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Nyasha is the Editorial Director at MasterWP and a software developer at Howard Development & Consulting, the company behind WP Wallet.

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